BNSF Rail Cars Stand Idle in Montana

Laramie, WY – BNSF Railway -- the nation's top hauler of
container rail freight -- is parking miles of railcars in Montana and elsewhere because there isn't enough freight to keep them rolling.

Cars that often carry 40-foot containers of goods shipped from Asia stand like an iron fence on the tracks in the canyon between Helena and Great Falls.

Analysts say transportation usually is among the first sectors to show signs of a downturn in the economy and with Americans feeling pinched, it could be a while before the idle cars move.

BNSF Railway has parked about 1,000 cars in Montana alone.

Spokesman Gus Melonas says more are parked in other states, due to a downturn in international business. He declined to say what percentage of the company's fleed is parked elsewhere, citing confidentiality issues.

Melonas says seasonal car storage is common, but the number of cars now idle is exceptional.

Industry officials say the volume of intermodal rail freight in the United States was down 3.4 percent during January and February, compared to the same two months a year ago. However, movement of coal, grain and ore have risen.